Conor ‘Toasty’ McMonagle was the toast of Four Masters as he hit what proved to be the winner with just a minute of time left of a very close but poor quality affair at Tirconaill Park.
Four Masters 0-9
McMonagle made up for some poor finishing earlier in the game and just when it looked as if they were going to be no winner, he fired over after a great run.
The sides had been level on eight occasions before that but the main talking point was some refereeing decisions which annoyed both sets of management and supporters. In the end Four Masters just about deserved their win as they had probably the better chances but a total of 12 wides tells its own story, at least five of them from very pointable frees.
On the other hand MacCumhaill’s also wasted a number of very good scoring chances but their tally of seven in total was a more reasonable figure.
The very hot conditions were a militating factor, but on the evidence of what was on display, both sides have some way to go if they are to be a factor in the closing stages of the championship.
Four Masters were without Karl Lacey, Michael Doherty and Benny Byrne and with them back, they would probably hold the greater threat.
The sides shared five points in the opening ten minutes, Josh Lacey and two from Conor McMonagle for Four Masters while Darren O’Leary got two for the visitors.
The shooting from both sides deteriorated remarkably after this and it was not until six minutes from the break that Brendan McLaughlin had the next score to tie up the game.
Brian Lafferty had a point immediately to push MacCumhaill’s ahead but Shane Carr levelled and a minute from the break, Raymie McGrory pushed the home side back in front.
Half-time: Four Masters 0-5, MacCumhaill’s 0-4.
Marty O’Reilly, from a free, had the visitors level within two minutes of the restart and he then edged his side ahead after Barry Dunnion was penalised very harshly for overcarrying. He may have overcarried, but he had been pushed to the ground first and was clearly fouled. The award was the first of many second half decisions which led a lot of frustration from the players and they showed a lot of restraint in the sultry heat!
Josh Lacey levelled after a great run from Raymie McGrory on 43 minutes and he did well at the other end, taking the ball off the line after Darren O’Leary palmed a high effort back across goal at the post. The ball was destined for the net only for McGrory’s intervention.
At the other end Stephen Keeney had a great goal chance but pulled his shot just wide of the post.
MacCumhaill’s had to play out the final 12 minutes with 14 minutes when Gerard Grindle saw yellow for a second time, but they still went ahead again with Marty O’Reilly pointing a free.
With six minutes left Conor McMonagle levelled from a 13m free, but some of the best football and scores were kept for the closing minutes.
Darren McGowan hit a magnificent point with four left but Shane Carr responded within a minute.
Then came ‘Toasty’ McMonagle’s winner but MacCumhaill’s had a half goal chance when Brian Lafferty fisted for goal in a crowded goalmouth but Paul Durcan was alert. Durcan also had a chance from a ‘45’ to ease the home side’s anxiety but was well off target.
After the final whistle, there was some tension, but it was sorted out and arose mostly because of the frustration with the refereeing decisions. On another day and in a more competitive environment, it could have been more unsavoury.
Barry Dunnion, Raymie McGrory, Shane Carr and Luke Keaney were best for the home side while Pat McNulty, Brendan McLaughlin, Marty O’Reilly and Darren O’Leary were lively for the losers.
Four Masters: Paul Durcan; Darren Walsh, Barry Farragher, Danny McGarrigle; Barry Dunnion, Conor Rooney, Josh Lacey (0-2); Luke Keaney, Barry Monaghan; Sean O’Kennedy, Conor McMonagle (0-4,2f), Peadar Espey; Raymie McGrory (0-1), Shane Carr (0-2), Stephen Keeney. Subs., Jamie McCrea for Farragher 37; Conor McDaid for Espey 37; John Boyle for J Lacey 55.
MacCumhaill’s: Chris Patton; Seamus McGinty, Joe Dunnion, John Lynch; Gerard Grindle, Gary Dunnion, Rory Dunleavy; Steven O’Reilly, Pat McNulty; Brendan McLaughlin (0-1), Brian Lafferty (0-1), Michael Lynch; Marty O’Reilly (0-3,3f), Darren O’Leary (0-2,1f), Andrew McCloskey. Subs., Darren McGowan (0-1) for M Lynch ht; Owen Wright for S McGinty 57.
Referee: Ryan Walsh (Bundoran)
Four Masters 1-16
Benny Cassidy was the star of the show as Four Masters had an easy victory in the reserve game at Tirconaill Park. They led by 0-9 to 0-4 at the interval.
Four Masters: S Martin; E Bonner, D Cassidy, K Breslin; C Loughney (0-2), P Harvey, D McMonagle; C Gallagher (0-1), H McPartland (0-2); D Ward (0-4,3f), C Cassidy, D Bushell; B Cassidy (0-7,1f), J Duignan, E Doogan. Subs., B O’Donnell for McMonagle 10; D Muldoon (1-0) for Bushell; D Doogan for Duignan; C O’Donnell for E Doogan.
MacCumhaill’s: O Gallen; C Lyons, M Gallagher, C Griffin; C Muldoon, G Doherty, O McGroarty; A Gillespie, M Lafferty; A Kelly (0-1,f), B Patton (0-3,2f), N Quinn (0-2); A Patton, M Patton (0-2,2f), M Dorrian (1-0).
Referee: S Toolan (A Ruadh)